Plant Health Care (PHC) has entered into an evaluation agreement with a fifth major agricultural/seed company for its Innatus 3G peptide technology. That means all five of the top agricultural/seed corporations are now investing significant resources on field testing our PREtec platforms.
Recent field trials commissioned by Plant Health Care provide further support for the benefits of Innatus 3G peptides in the control of ASR, a devastating fungal disease of soybeans in Brazil. Farmers spent US$1.7 billion on soybean fungicides in 2016 in Brazil; in spite of this investment, ASR resistance to fungicides is a major problem. Four partners, which between them represent more than 80% of this fungicide market, are now testing Innatus 3G, with results due in 2Q 2018.
In addition to the partners' trials, the Company is collaborating with EMBRAPA, the highly regarded Brazilian Government agriculture research organisation, to evaluate Innatus 3G. There are good prospects of fast track registration for Innatus 3G, due to its benign biological profile.
To support all of this work in Brazil, the company has established Plant Health Care Insumos Agricolas Ltda, a wholly owned subsidiary.
In parallel, the Company is developing peptide production processes at our laboratories in Seattle. The lead candidate peptide (PHC279) has achieved yield targets at laboratory scale and has moved to pilot-scale fermentation.
Exclusive rights to Innatus 3G for use in South American soybeans are expected to be auctioned in mid 2018, well ahead of the start of the 2018/19 growing season. We are engaging actively with all our major partners to prepare for that auction.
Partners are starting to indicate promising results in 2017 trials with T-Rex 3G and Y-Max 3G. Supporting the large Innatus 3G field programme in Brazil and accelerating the development of a commercial formulation of PHC279 are now the company's top development priorities. Since these priorities require substantial resource, the Company has decided to de-prioritise closing a licensing event in 2017, in order to underpin success with the larger 2018 goals.
Chris Richards, Executive Chairman & Interim CEO, said "It is a great landmark to have all the industry majors signed up to work with Innatus 3G. With the very large resources they can bring to bear, backed up by our own field trials work with EMBRAPA and others, we are confident that the field trials now started will generate the data our partners need to evaluate the platform. If Innatus 3G lives up to its promise of fighting disease resistance, we can be confident of a successful auction of rights to South American soybeans in 2018."